October 2016

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Westworld! - 2
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Photo 1:  James Marsden and Evan Rachel Wood as Teddy and Dolores Abernathy in HBO’s Westworld, Photo 2: Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Robert Ford, Photo 3: Westworld  premieres on October 2nd on HBO, Photo 4: Thandie Newton as Maeve, Ed Harris and The Man in Black, and Jeffrey Wright as Bernard Lowe (Photos: John P. Johnson/HBO)


  • By Rebekah Rejniak
  • Photos Courtesy of HBO

Uncurl yourself out of the fetal position. Stop watching re-runs of The Sopranos, Deadwood, Boardwalk Empire and muttering about post-series depression. When Game of Thrones ended, though temporarily, in June, I considered writing my own fanfic, starting a Reddit thread to commiserate, or just starting the series over from the start. That’s when I heard that The Nolans were working on a TV show for HBO.

Westworld was originally a 1973 novel and film by science fiction boss Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park). Now in 2016, a television show of the same name was created – this time by the non-linear storytelling dream-team, The Nolans.

Westworld is a futuristic adult theme park where affluent guests can pay to live out their Wild West fantasies at the expense of the parks “hosts” or, androids. It’s a grade A jackpot for rapists, murders and inferiority complexes. Dolores Abernathy played by Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler, Across The Universe, True Blood) is our happy-go-lucky rancher’s daughter. Every morning, like Groundhog’s Day, she rises in the exact same position (she does wake up like that). She goes on through her day, with the bright-eyed optimism of a child, as if she’s never seen such a beautiful desert sunrise before in her life. She exchanges simple-times rhetoric with her daddy, Peter Abernathy, played beautifully by Louis Herthum.  And every morning he sits happily on their ranch porch, watching the same stunning desert sunrise, waxing poetic to Dolores. That is until he doesn’t.

Dolores goes about her daily errands or watercolor lessons, and on a good day she runs into her love interest Teddy Flood, played by James Marsden (Enchanted, X-Men). On a bad day, she’ll cross paths with The Man in Black, a surgeon of madness played by who else? The one and only, Ed Harris (Pollock, A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13) who sullies her in a barn. Only to maybe do the entire thing again tomorrow.

HBO is calling Westworld a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin” and that’s precisely what happens next. A system wide software update created by Head of Programming, Bernard Lowe, played by Jeffrey Wright (Boardwalk Empire, Casino Royale) causes glitches among the androids. Glitches range from aggression towards guests to full-on rebellion and serious bouts of existentialism. These glitches may or may not have been an intentional mistake caused by Promethean-like figure Dr. Robert Ford, the theme park’s creative director played by Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal, Silence of the Lambs). It seems he says… “the androids are progressing miles beyond what they are programmed to do by recognizing fragments of prior builds. The reveries must be allowing him to access them.” We also learn that Dolores is the oldest robot at the park. And based on her recent conduct, she may be the most deceptively dangerous.

In a truly Nolanian twist, the HBO series will differ from the earlier film in that we experience the story from the android’s perspective. In the early stages of pre-production, when discussing the plot with Executive Producer J.J. Abrams (Star Wars, Lost), show creators Jonathan Nolan (Person of Interest) and wife Lisa Joy Nolan (Burn Notice) asked “What if we flipped it? What if we make the robots the good guys, and people are the ones who are horrible and screwed up?” Taking that a step further, they explore the androids relationships with their creators, Dr. Robert Ford, and Bernard Lowe. Get ready for this show to stack so many levels of voyeurism upon itself. We predict that each season will delve deeper into the levels of Skynet worthy, Artificial Intelligence evolution and sociological voyeurism, and the pockets that will profit from this.

Some homework for my cinema nerds: can you hear the song playing on the saloon piano? What about the fight scene when a western outlaw rides into town? Are these songs now anachronistic or would they arguably be considered classics to our future counterparts? Now that’s trippy.

Westworld” premieres October 2nd on HBO. Don’t miss it!

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